The ultimate loaf of bread recipe

The ultimate loaf of bread

Crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside, follow our simple step-by-step guide to create the most delicious homemade white loaf.

Prep time: 85 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

Servings: 8 people

Preparation

Make the dough

Step one - make the dough
  1. First, lightly oil a 1kg loaf tin and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl or mixer, combine 500g strong white bread flour, 1½ tsp fine salt and 1 tsp golden caster sugar and mix well.
  3. Add 7g fast action yeast and mix again.
  4. Gradually stir in 300ml warm water until you have a dough that is tacky, rather than sticky.

 

Knead the dough

Step two - knead the dough
  1. On a lightly floured surface, knead by hand for 15 minutes or 7-10 minutes in an electric mixer, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  2. Kneading is crucial; it allows the gluten in the flour to get to work, becoming more elastic and helping the bread to rise.
  3. Form into a smooth ball.
  4. Lightly oil a clean bowl, put the dough into it, then cover with cling film or a tea towel and leave to rest in a warm place for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Proving allows tiny air bubbles to form, which strengthen the structure of the bread, making the dough extra light and much bigger. 

 

Knead again

Step three - knead again
  1. Once the dough is risen, tip out onto a lightly floured surface and, using your hands, knock back to release any air.
  2. Continue kneading for 2 minutes until the dough is smooth.
  3. Then, using a cupping motion, smooth the dough over the top and meet your hands underneath, forming a tight but smooth surface on top.
  4. Make sure the dough is just smaller than the tin. 
  5. Turn the dough over and pinch together the seam that has formed.
  6. Smooth the top once more and place in the prepared tin.
  7. Cover lightly with a lightly oiled piece of cling film and allow to prove for one hour. 

 

Prepare to bake

Step four - prepare to bake
  1. Turn the dough over and pinch together the seam that has formed, which ensures that ends of the bread won’t split open during baking.
  2. Smooth the top once more and place in the prepared tin.
  3. Cover lightly with a lightly oiled piece of cling film and allow to prove for one hour. This second prove allows the dough to grow even bigger and improves the texture of the dough, making sure that the final loaf is wonderfully crusty. 
  4. Meanwhile, heat the oven to gas 7, 220C, fan 200C.
  5. When the proving time is up, sprinkle the top with a little flour and use a sharp knife to make a shallow slash in the top, around 1cm deep, from one end to the other. This will help the loaf to bake and give a nice shape.

 

Bake

Step five - bake
  1. Place the loaf in the centre of the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then turn down the heat to gas 6, 200C, fan 180C, and cook for 15 minutes – this gives a really good crust without overcooking the middle of the loaf.
  2. Carefully, using a tea towel, turn the loaf upside down and remove from the tin.
  3. Tap the bottom of the bread and it should sound hollow.
  4. If it doesn't or the bottom isn’t completely dry, return the loaf upside down to the tin, and bake for another 5 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool and serve.

 

Ingredients

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